CPA ?Certified Public Accountant
While a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is always an accountant, not all accountants are CPAs. To become a CPA, an accountant must take and pass a series of rigorous tests administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. A number of states also require CPAs to pass state exams as well. Accordingly, there are a number of accountants who never pass the CPA exam and though they can perform a variety of accountancy chores, they are not allowed to perform certain tasks that only a CPA can do. CPAs offer basic income tax preparation and advice for a range of clients including individuals, small businesses and corporations. CPAs can also be found performing basic business record keeping, auditing and consulting work.
CFE ?Certified Fraud Examiner
Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) is a person who has undergone schooling to become an expert in the detection, prevention, investigation, and deterrence of fraud. Although becoming a CFE is not necessary in order to gain employment in the fraud examination field, gaining the credential helps boost a person?s likelihood of becoming employed in the field and increases his or her earning potential.
CFA ?Certified Forensic Accountant
A forensic accounting professional typically has a bachelors or masters degree in accounting supplemented by additional courses in forensic accounting. Certified Forensic accountants can work in both civil and criminal court cases. In a civil case, a forensic accounting professional may be asked to calculate economic damages that occurred as the result of a breach of contract or provide insight into a case based on a claim of professional negligence. In a criminal case, a forensic accountant may be asked to present evidence of insurance fraud, identity theft, money laundering, embezzlement, price fixing, stock market manipulation, or other related offenses.
What does any of this have to do with Mortgage Servicing Fraud?
Once upon a time, what sometimes feels like a lifetime ago & other time feels like just yesterday, I had no idea why Fairbanks Capital Corp. (n/k/a Select Portfolio Servicing), was claiming that my loan was in default. I had all my cancelled checks, I had all my monthly mortgage statements and still not only could I not understand why they insisted I was in default, I could not explain to anyone else why I was not. Had I known then what I know now, I would have immediately sought out a CPA with CFE status. Why? Because it?s this unique combination of qualifications that could have easily answered the question.
There are many varied opinions out there on the topic of hiring an expert, some agree it?s the best way to go, others do not. What I can offer is based on my own personal experience as a Certified Mortgage Servicing Fraud Victim (certified both by the FTC & with respect to the Hillsborough County Superior Court?s decision in my foreclosure case) and the initial hiring of someone who only feigned that they were such an expert, but in reality was not (that issue is addressed here). What I can tell you is this, at some point, if you are going to fight the fight; you are going to need a qualified expert to explain what happened to your loan to the Court. My take is that you can either pay for a report once, or you can pay for a report twice but at the end of the day, you are not only going to need the report, you are going to need someone that is recognized by the Court as an Expert Witness.
An expert witness is a witness, who by virtue of education, profession, publication or experience, is believed to have special knowledge of his subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon his opinion. That being said, not all expert witnesses are created equal and ultimately, the Court and not the party in question will determine their classification as an Expert Witness. So, why hire an expensive CPA/CFE or CFA when there are others out there who claim they can provide you with the same service? Because in the end it may very well all come down the credibility of the witness in question.
Where do mortgage auditors/analysts fit in the equation?
Now we are in the thick of it, aren?t we? This question seems to keep popping up when it comes to Mortgage Servicing Fraud. Simply put, it?s an auditor?s job to review documentation, ask questions and report back as to whether or not the rules are being followed. While there is ?special? education available to train one to become an auditor, more often than not, people holding this title are not required to be specially licensed or trained in accounting. While it is not this author?s intention to disparage the profession, it is the author?s intention to make sure that people understand what they are getting when they hire an auditor.
As many Constant Readers know, long before the Dillon Case became an actual court case, I hired an auditor in connection with my loan (that story in it?s entirety can be found here). While it was less expensive than hiring an actual CPA, CPA/CFE or CFA (costing roughly $2,500.00), ultimately the only thing the report actually accomplished was to help me understand exactly what Fairbanks/SPS had done with his payments and to my loan and based on that understanding to obtain legal counsel. Was it money well spent? Unfortunately the jury is still out on that question (again, you?d have to see the whole story to understand).
I have never made any secret about my experience and subsequent opinions on the matter. If I had it to do over again, I would have hired a CPA/CFE or CFA to begin with.
What does this all mean for a victim of Mortgage Servicing Fraud?
Those of us who have been unfortunate enough to have to fight unlawful/illegitimate foreclosure attempts stemming from Mortgage Servicing Fraud know all too well all the issues that come along with the ever-looming fear of becoming homeless. It makes sense to surround ourselves with the best people and tools when trying to take on these issues. Simply put, you wouldn?t hire someone who claims to be a doctor to perform lifesaving surgery on yourself or a loved one; you would hire an actual doctor. Why should this decision be any different?
For more detailed information you can visit the following sites:
Anti-Fraud and Corporate Responsibility Center
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants